"PRESLEY'S TOUR OF DUTY HONORED"
By Staff Sgt. Sean Riley of Inside
the Turret magazine
A Public Affairs release by
the U.S. Army Training
and Doctrine Command
FORT KNOX, Ky. (TRADOC News Service, March 4, 2004)
-- If transitioning from civilian to Soldier can sometimes be
an arduous process, imagine transitioning from superstar to Soldier.
Elvis Presley made the change, and did so as a private. On
March 24, 1958, during the Cold War, Presley was drafted into
active duty as a tanker.
Fort Knox's famed Patton Museum of Cavalry and Armor will
honor Presley's tour of duty with a 2-year-long exhibit that
opens to the public March 24, 2004, the 46th anniversary of his
induction into the Army.
At the time, many thought Presley would wind up in a special
services unit, traveling to entertain troops around the globe
as his primary duty. But Presley didn't want it that way. Instead,
he spent much of his duty in a jeep as part of a reconnaissance
platoon. The MOS is known today as a cavalry scout.
The focus of the exhibit will be Presley's dedication to duty
and will shed light on the serious Soldier who did his duty,
explained Frank Jardim, the Patton Museum director.
"He wanted to be respected. He wanted to be a person
who people would look at and say, 'That guy did his part,'"
said Jardim. "So, (Elvis) goes into the service and declines
the opportunity to perform. He could have had a cushy life as
a superstar, but instead, as a matter of his dignity, he just
(wanted) to do his part like everyone else."
When his two-year stint was over in March 1960, Elvis returned
to his life of stardom.
His military experience was not unlike many other Soldiers,
Jardim said, adding that Presley was always very proud of his
In 1964 Presley donated the money from one of his concerts
to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. That,
according to Jardim, is an example of the patriotism Presley
Jardim expects the exhibit to be a success in enlightening
the public to a normally unseen or unknown side of the superstar.
During his short tour in the Army, Elvis met his lifelong
friend, Joe Esposito, who eventually became his road manager.
Esposito will be at the museum for the exhibition's opening.
Artifacts from Graceland will be shipped on loan to the Patton
Museum for use in the exhibit. Items will include his uniforms,
official documents from his career and postcards and letters
written by Presley. The exhibit will also feature weapons and
vehicles like the ones Presley trained on and used.
The Patton Museum is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to
4:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission
to the museum is free.